What is a Raptor?
Raptors are birds of prey such as...
eagles, hawks, falcons, owls, osprey, and kites...
...hunting birds with keen eyesight and hearing, strong feet with sharp talons for grasping and killing prey, and curved beaks for ripping up their food. Raptors are not the only predators of the bird world, but they are the only birds that hunt with their feet!
Current Residents and other Raptors of the Northwest - Click below to see photos, descriptions and personal and natural history of raptors of the Pacific Northwest, many of whom are current residents at CRC (Brown links).
History - For thousands of years, humans have looked on raptors variously as
partners in hunting (the sport of falconry) or as villains ('varmints')
poaching our chosen prey species. We now have the wisdom to view raptors
as indicator species for the health of our shared world, as well as models
of grace and beauty, speed, fierceness, fidelity, and parenting. We study
their hearing and eyesight, and try to unravel the mystery of migration,
from where they go, to why, and how they find their way.
Handling - Raptors' formidable defenses make them a challenge to handle. Their specialized dietary requirements do not permit adequate substitutes for a whole prey diet, which can be difficult and expensive to obtain, or space- and time-consuming to raise. For any bird that makes its living on the wing, perfect muscle and feather condition is critical. Caging must promote this through size and materials. For raptors, whose powerful distance vision can fail to see wire as a barrier, vertical barring has been found to be the best solution. This vertical barring also helps prevent the facial, foot or feather problems associated with attempts to cling to, climb or go through wire. Special perches, good drainage and ventilation, a natural dirt and plant flooring or a deep layer of pea gravel are also important to prevent the foot and disease problems which are common to raptors in captivity. Privacy is essential for minimizing stress and preventing excessive socialization to people. Large cages are critical (and required by federal permit conditions) for pre-release conditioning of these consummate athletes or they will not survive post-release.
References for the Descriptions on the Raptor Pages
Angell, Tony. 1978. Ravens, Crows, Magpies and Jays. University of Washington Press, Seattle, WA.
Clark, William S., and Brian K. Wheeler. 1987. Hawks of North America. Houghton Mifflin Co., New York, NY.
Dunn, Jon L., et al. 1999. Field Guide to the Birds of North America. National Geographic Society, Washington, D.C.
Dunne, Pete, David Sibley and Clay Sutton. 1988. Hawks in Flight. Houghton Mifflin Co., New York, NY.
Ehrlich, Paul R., David S. Dobkin and Darryl Wheye. 1988. The Birder's Handbook: A Field Guide to the Natural History of North American Birds. Simon & Schuster, New York. NY.
Johnsgard, Paul A. 1990. Hawks, Eagles and Falcons of North America: Biology and Natural History. Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington, D.C.
Johnsgard, Paul A. 1988. North American Owls: Biology and Natural History. Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington, D.C.
Miller, Millie, and Cyndi Nelson. 1989. Talons: North American Birds of Prey. Johnson Books, Boulder, CO.
Palmer, Ralph S., ed. 1988. Handbook of North American Birds. Volume 4, Diurnal Raptors (Part 1). Yale University Press, New Haven, CT.
Palmer, Ralph S., ed. 1988. Handbook of North American Birds. Volume 5, Diurnal Raptors (Part 2). Yale University Press, New Haven, CT.
Peterson, Roger Tory. 1990. A Field Guide to Western Birds. 3rd edition. Houghton Mifflin Co., Boston, MA.
Poole, Alan, and F. Gill, eds. The Birds of North America, Nos. 1, 42, 44, 52, 61, 62, 107, 133, 172, 179, 210, 265, 298, 339, 346, 372, 476, 482, 494, 506, 508, 660, 683. Smith-Edwards-Dunlap Co., Philadelphia, PA.
Sibley, David Allen. 2000. The Sibley Guide to Birds. Alfred A. Knopf, New York, NY.
Terres, John K. 1980. The Audubon Society Encyclopedia of North American Birds. Alfred A. Knopf, New York, NY.
Wilmore, Sylvia Bruce. 1977. Crows, Jays, Ravens and Their Relatives. David and Charles, London.